He is a physician practicing in Upstate New York. He is the Chief Editor of the Muslim Times, which has more than 43,000 followers in Twitter. He is also Chair of Religion and Science for the Muslim Sunrise, the oldest Muslim publication in North America. He has authored more than 400 articles on Islam, Christianity, Secularism and Religion & Science. Follow in Twitter: @The_MuslimTimes
Winter hits Kuhmo hard, but it sure is beautiful. The town, which lies in an area that borders Russia, was under Swedish and Russian rule in centuries past, but is now proudly Finnish. The boreal forests in this region are home to wolves and bears as well as the rare, and rarely seen, Finnish forest reindeer, who forage among the trees.
Suggested reading and viewing by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times for the Creator God of the Abrahamic Faiths
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
This is an article describing the Transcendent, yet Personal God of the Abrahamic Faiths in the present day scientific paradigm, the One God of Islam, Unitarian Christianity and Judaism.
If my articles are boring to you, it may be that you need to read more of them, as was suggested by John Cage, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”
In the three great monotheistic religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, God is viewed as a supreme, transcendent being, beyond matter space and time, and yet the foundation of all that meets our senses that is described in terms of matter, space, and time. That is the Al Batin or the Hidden God of monotheism. Furthermore, this God is not the god of deism, who created the world and then left it alone, or the god of pantheism, who is equated with all of existence. The Islamic and the Judeo-Christian God is a nanosecond-by-nanosecond participant in each event that takes place in every cubic nanometer of the universe. He has full knowledge of all things. God listens to every thought and participates in each action of his very special creation, a minute bit of organized matter called humanity that moves around on the surface of a tiny pebble in a vast universe. The Holy Quran declares:
Allah’s is the Kingdom of the heavens and the earth; and to Allah are all affairs returned for final judgment. (Al Quran 57:6)
Whereas the nineteenth century physics was about to frame God out of physical understanding of the universe, the twentieth century physics has turned the tables in favor of Monotheism.
To the atheists design in the universe is apparent but not real. For the theists, enlightened in science, the converse is true, the self sufficiency of the universe based on the laws of nature is apparent and perceived only and is not real. God is the Law Giver and sustainer of the universe. Both positions may be argued to some degree from modern science. However, only theism can offer a holistic approach, not only explaining our universe, but also human morality and ethics, our history and personal experience.
When we approach science from this theistic perspective we find that our religion and science become one and our psyche finds unification.
If there is a ‘Personal God’ that hears human prayers then there has to be a way for the deity to influence the physical world without breaking the laws of nature and making the study of science futile. Quantum physics may be the magical wand, whereby Personal God can influence our world, without breaking the laws of nature. In His infinite wisdom, the Omniscient God provided for infinite means to maintain His divinity!
The article, the Indispensible God Hypothesis can be read online in the fall, 2008 volume, on page 22 of the PDF file: Muslim Sunrise Fall 2008.
Suggested reading by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Broadly speaking, while Dr. Israr Ahmad is promoting extreme Islamism, Javed Ahmad Ghamidi is offering a secular understanding of Islam and interfaith tolerance. Nevertheless, their debate exposes vulnerabilities of both, for example Ghamdi does not allow any taxation other than Zakat, disregarding possible needs of the society. Additionally, he wants the Government to coerce the Muslims to say Salat or the five times daily prayer. In that case would the believers be actually praying to God Almighty or the coercive government?
I must applaud Ghamdi for a beautiful interpretation of Surah Taubah between 50 minutes and 1.15 mark of this video.
Insisting on a narrow understanding of the Quran without benefiting from the history of legislation and constitution making in USA and the West, the Muslims end up with a myopic understanding that cannot satisfy the needs of the modern society.
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
After Jesus said the following, he looked towards heaven and prayed:
Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. (John 17:1-3, New International Version)
Not to speak of the Gospels of Mark, Matthew or Luke, even in the Gospel of John, which was the last to be written, 60-70 years after crucifixion, as the status of Jesus was being unduly raised and he was evolving into a deity, Jesus is still a prophet and not God, in the whole of the chapter 17. In this chapter Jesus, may peace be on him, acknowledges several times, “you have sent me” and “you have given me,” as he addresses God the Father.
The confusion arises only when people try to explain, what is central and fundamental in the light of what is peripheral and allegorical.
Jesus, may peace be on him, is not only praying in the beginning of this chapter, but, through out, to God the Father. Not once or twice, but over and over again and towards the end he mentions again that he is a prophet of God.
In the words of Sir Francis Bacon’s advice, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”
Trinitarians allege that Jesus was perfect man and fully divine.
The portrait of Jesus, in John 17, as you will read below, is not of some one who is fully divine, but a humble man, who is not Omnipotent and does not know the future and is praying to God the Father, for help for himself and his followers. Read for yourself, I have taken the liberty to highlight in red color, what I mean to emphasize:
I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
“I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled.
“I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.
“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.
“Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them.” (John 17:4-26, New International Version)
The emphasis is constantly on God the Father, His message and His glory and Jesus is constantly praying to him.
Read the whole chapter again and again, until you begin to see that Jesus, may peace be on him, is not co-equal to God the Father, as suggested in the Nicene creed.
In the last paragraph, Jesus is loud and clear that he is a Prophet of God and no literal son of God. I rest my case!
Now, I link two debates between Unitarian Christians and Trinitarians:
“I have created men, high and low, but to worship Me.” (Al Quran 51:56)
Jonathan Haidt’s Ted Talk: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence
Psychologist Jonathan Haidt asks a simple, but difficult question: why do we search for self-transcendence? Why do we attempt to lose ourselves? In a tour through the science of evolution by group selection, he proposes a provocative answer.
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
The above one minute video clip is by Jaggi Vasudev also known as Sadhguru.
His criticism certainly needs to be tackled by the three Abrahamic faiths, namely Judaism, Christianity and Islam, as they all believe in Afterlife.
Many a Jew, a Christian and a Muslim believe that their belief in Afterlife gives them hope, inspiration and sense of purpose.
To state the obvious, Afterlife and heaven and hell are described both in the Bible and the Quran.
The believers base their belief in the Afterlife on their faith in the respective scriptures, which is all well and good. But, this does not open up an avenue of discussion for them against the views of the agnostics, the atheists or those who do not believe in their respective scriptures.
The holy Quran does not only claim Afterlife but also suggests a poignant philosophical argument for it that is based in science.
The simple yet very profound argument has two parts:
A. This universe is not an accident. Its beauty, complexity and wonderful organization suggests an Insightful, All Knowing Creator.
B. The Creator of the first creation, in His creation, has certainly demonstrated His ability to recreate it.
Now, I propose to elaborate these two claims.
According to a Gallup poll in 2019, a large majority of the US population, 78% to be exact, believes in God the Creator, this includes both the camps of those who believe in guided evolution or creationism.
Despite the fact that significant population now identifies itself as unaffiliated to any religion, only 22% of Americans do not believe God had any role in human evolution.
I believe in guided evolution, as I believe both in a Creator God and in the facts of biological evolution.
Scientists and philosophers from all Abrahamic faiths, including myself, have laid out forceful arguments for our Creator God and I have been collecting these over the years and I propose to put them at your finger tips here:
The above should suffice for the first part of my thesis: This universe is not an accident. Its beauty, complexity and wonderful organization suggests an Insightful, All Knowing Creator.
Once the reader is comfortable with the first part, the next part, the Creator of the first creation, in His creation, has certainly demonstrated His ability to recreate it, naturally flows from it.
The holy Quran presents this reasoning, with different aspects of God’s creation several times. For starters: “Do they not see that Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, has the power to create the like of them?” (Al Quran 17:100)
Next I present, a verse of the Holy Quran, where Allah cites gravity and planetary motion as a pointer, towards His creativity and eventual hereafter:
Allah is He Who raised up the heavens without any pillars that you can see. Then He settled Himself on the Throne. And He pressed the sun and the moon into service: each pursues its course until an appointed term. He regulates it all. He clearly explains the Signs, that you may have a firm belief in the meeting with your Lord. (Al Quran 13:3)
The Quran offers only one line of reasoning for the second creation, namely the first creation. Allah argues that one who has created this complex and awe inspiring universe and all the life forms on our planet earth, should be able to recreate human life and of course the individual humans.
The Holy Quran discusses reincarnation in greater detail in the following verses in the chapter Yasin, adding the domain of biology to that of astronomy as the argument is built further, from the first creation:
Does not man see that We have created him from a mere sperm-drop? Yet lo! he is an open quarreler! And he coins similitudes for Us and forgets his own creation. He says, ‘Who can quicken the bones when they are decayed?’ Say, ‘He, Who created them the first time, will quicken them; and He knows every kind of creation full well. He Who produces for you fire out of the green tree, and behold, you kindle from it. Has not He Who created the heavens and the earth the power to create the like of them?’ Yea, and He is indeed the Supreme Creator, the All-Knowing. Indeed, His command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, ‘Be!,’ and it is. So Holy is He, in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things. And to Him will you all be brought back. (Al Quran 36:78-84)
In several places the Quran uses biology and regeneration of earth in spring as a metaphor for Afterlife:
Among His Signs is this that you see the earth lying withered, but when We send down water on it, it stirs and swells with verdure. Surely He Who quickens the earth can quicken the dead also. Indeed, He has power over all things. (Al Quran 41:40)
He brings forth the living from the dead, and He brings forth the dead from the living; and He gives life to the earth after its death. And in like manner shall you be brought forth. (Al Quran 30:20)
The debate we are having here is not a new one but is an age old conflict between the believers and non-believers, as the holy Quran describes:
They say, ‘What! when we are dead and have become mere dust and bones, shall we indeed be raised up again? This is what we have been promised before, we and our fathers. This is nothing but fables of the ancients.’ Say, ‘To whom belongs the earth and whosoever is therein, if you know?’‘To Allah’, they will say. Say, ‘Will you not then be admonished?’ Say, ‘Who is the Lord of the seven heavens, and the Lord of the Great Throne?’ They will say, ‘They are Allah’s.’ Say, ‘Will you not then take Him as your Protector?’(Al Quran 23:83-88)
The Quran is well aware of comments of critics like Jaggi Vasudev:
And they say, ‘There is nothing but this our present life; we die and we live here; and nothing but Time destroys us.’ But they have no knowledge of that; they do but conjecture. And when Our clear Signs are recited unto them, their only contention is that they say, ‘Bring back our fathers, if you are truthful.’ (Al Quran 45:25-26)
The Quran has a clear answer for its critics. As long as the Jewish, Christian, Muslim and other scientist are able to demonstrate there is a Creator of our universe, we are on very firm grounds to believe in the Afterlife. The first creation is proof enough for the future second creation.
By Myriam Francois-Cerrah, who became popular when she was a child for acting in the 90s hit film ‘Sense and Sensibility.’ Now she is gaining more popularity for being one of a growing number of educated middle class female converts to Islam in Britain. She has recently contributed to a series of videos on Islam produced in the UK titled, “Inspired by Muhammad.”
I embraced Islam after graduating from Cambridge. Prior to that I was a skeptical Catholic — a believer in God but with a mistrust of organized religion.
The Qur’an was pivotal for me. I first tried to approach it in anger, as part of an attempt to prove my Muslim friend wrong. Later I began reading it with a more open mind.
The opening of Al-Fatiha, with its address to the whole of mankind, psychologically stopped me in my tracks. It spoke of previous scriptures in a way, which I both recognized, but also differed. It clarified many of the doubts I had about Christianity. It made me an adult as I suddenly realized that my destiny and my actions had consequences for which I alone would now be held responsible.
In a world governed by relativism, it outlined objective moral truths and the foundation of morality.
As someone who’d always had a keen interest in philosophy, the Qur’an felt like the culmination of all of this philosophical cogitation.
It combined Kant, Hume, Sartre and Aristotle. It somehow managed to address and answer the deep philosophical questions posed over centuries of human existence and answer its most fundamental one, ‘why are we here?’
In the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), I recognized a man who was tasked with a momentous mission, like his predecessors, Moses, Jesus and Abraham (peace be upon them all).
I had to pick apart much of the Orientalist libel surrounding him in order to obtain accurate information, since the historical relativism which people apply to some degree when studying other historical figures, is often completely absent, in what is a clear attempt to disparage his person.
I think many of my close friends thought I was going through another phase and would emerge from the other side unscathed, not realizing that the change was much more profound.
Some of my closest friends did their best to support me and understand my decisions. I have remained very close to some of my childhood friends and through them I recognize the universality of the divine message, as God’s values shine through in the good deeds any human does.
I have never seen my conversion as a ‘reaction’ against, or an opposition to my culture. In contrast, it was a validation of what I’ve always thought was praiseworthy, while being a guidance for areas in need of improvement. I also found many mosques not particularly welcoming and found the rules and protocol confusing and stressful.
I did not immediately identify with the Muslim community. I found many things odd and many attitudes perplexing. The attention given to the outward over the inward continues to trouble me deeply.
There is a need for a confident, articulate British Muslim identity which can contribute to the discussions of our time. Islam is not meant to be an alien religion, we shouldn’t feel like we’ve lost all trace of ourselves. Islam is a validation of the good in us and a means to rectify the bad.
Islam is about always having balance and I think the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) message was fundamental about having balance and equilibrium in all that we do.
The Prophet’s message was always that you repel bad with good that you always respond to evil with good and always remember that God loves justice so even when people are committing serious injustices against you, you have a moral responsibility and a moral obligation in front of God to always uphold justice and never yourself transgress those limits.
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: ‘Forgive him who wrongs you. Join him who cuts you off. Do good to him who does evil to you and speak the truth even if it be against yourself.’
Islam’s beauty really becomes to its own when it becomes manifest; and it becomes manifest when you make it into a tool for the betterment of society, human kind and the world.
The ideal from an Islamic perspective is for ethics to become living ethics, to become an applied body of values and not remain unfortunately as it often is cloistered somewhere which is some more divorced from reality.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, 3 he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,a]”>[a] I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Suggested reading by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
A Muslim could read this Psalm as a commentary on the Quranic verses 65:2-3.
Around the world, there are differing attitudes to female voices reciting the Koran. For some, it’s thought they should be restricted to female-only spaces, reciting verses in women prayer circles or Islamic lectures, for fear that the voice in public is “sinful”.
But in many cultures it is encouraged and there is growing appetite to bring more women into the field.
Producer: Sophia Smith-Galer
You can find out more by listening to the World Service’s Heart and Soul programme here.